FORT WORTH (CBS11) - The Fort Worth Independent school District, in the middle of a massive water test of all his properties searching for lead in drinking water, has decided to remove hundreds of older model drinking fountains after some were found with tainted water samples.
Traces of lead can come from water that sits for a while in a pipe that has metal interior, lead solder or even copper fittings.
In drinking fountain case, though, the water sits in a metal tank where it is cooled. When the water was allowed to sit in the tank for six to 18 hours some of the tanks leaked lead into the water.
"It's an area people haven't really looked at closely before," said John Robert Carman, director of the Fort Worth Water Department. "There is no requirement to do it. And in the case of something like a drinking fountain with the recirculating water cup, I don't think anybody really thought about that."
Water tests show around 45 of 855 water tests completed in the district as of Tuesday morning showed some lead in the water. All of the drinking fountains were believed to be installed before water protections went into effect in 1987. The district has so far sent samples from more than 1500 fountains and water taps for testing at a City of Fort Worth lab. But with only half of the testing completed, the district has decided to go ahead and rip out hundreds of the old drinking fountains and replace them with newer models that will not leak lead into the water.
"So we said before school opens let's get rid of these water fountains and let's put in ones that are guaranteed not to do that," said district spokesman Clint Bond. "So that's going to be about 500 water fountains across the district and just for that material alone it's going to be somewhere around $250,000."
Bond said added parts and the extra labor it make require to install all those fountains in by August 22, the district estimates the bill will climb to $800,000 for the replacements.
The district said any drinking fountains not replaced by the first day of school will be taken out of operation until they are.
Also, as a precaution, the school will flush out all water lines connected to drinking sources every morning. Allowing water to flow from lines for up to several minutes is a proven method of removing any lead or metals that may have leaked into the water while it sat in the pipes overnight.
FWISD has set up a hotline for lead concerns or questions about the water testing program: 817-814-2070.
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